BEACON FALLS — The town’s wastewater treatment plant is in need of major and expensive upgrades, but officials could opt for an alternative plan.
The town has deferred making significant upgrades to the plant, which is 45 years old, for decades. On top of that, towns are facing a federal mandate to reduce the amount of phosphorus and nitrogen emitted from treatment plants.
It has been estimated that if the town were to do all the upgrades needed it would cost between $16 million and $18 million.
On Monday, Dave Prickett, a consultant with Woodard and Curran who has been working with the town to study its options, presented an alternative plan to the Board of Selectmen.
The alternative includes regionalization and sending wastewater to Seymour’s treatment plant. Doing this, he said, would allow the town to pay smaller costs over time rather than having to pay the entire cost of upgrades all at once.
“If you upgrade your plant right now, you haven’t done a lot in 45 years, so it is one big pie all at once. With Seymour it is a little different,” Prickett said.
Prickett said the town would have to build a pipe and a pump station to get the wastewater into Seymour’s system and possibly pay for upgrades to Seymour’s plant right away.
“So it is a little bit of a time-based series of costs,” Prickett said.
Regionalization is not something that will occur overnight, Prickett said. The two towns would have to work out an agreement, create plans, and complete construction, he said.
“Best case you are looking at a four- to six-year window if you say go today. In six years a lot of things can go wrong,” Prickett said.
In the interim, the town would have to do some upgrades at its own plant in order to keep it working properly, Prickett said.
“We are trying to look at what can the plant and staff do now to make things better operationally and equipment-wise in the next four to eight years,” Prickett said.
Prickett said he is looking to narrow the projects down to a handful, which would cost no more than a combined $6 million and help the town get the most return for its investment.
Plant Supervisor Walter Opuszynski said the town will have to steps to deal with the amount of phosphorus in the water. While the remediation effort the town has implemented has worked fine in the past, an increase in flow could cause it to become inadequate, he said.
“What we have at the treatment plant now for the phosphorus may not be adequate. It may have to be looked at again because it will not meet the criteria for the state,” Opuszynski said.
Prickett said the current system, which was put in about three years ago, was a low-budget fix and has worked out well so far. However, he agreed with Opuszynski that the system will likely need upgrading.
Prickett didn’t have any cost estimates Monday for the alternative plan and expects to present figures to the board in December.